794. Emberiza stracheyi.
The Eastern Meadow-Bunting.
Euspizi cia (Linn.), apud Blyth, Cat. p. 130. Emberiza stracheyi, Moore, P. Z. S. 1855, p. 215, pl. 112 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 483; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 372; Hume, Cat. no. 714; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 79; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 574; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xii, p. 539; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 168. Emberiza cia, Linn. apud Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 371; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 57 ; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yurk. p. 256. Citrinella cia (Linn.), Hume, N. & E. p. 461.
Coloration. Male, After the autumn moult a longitudinal broad coronal band from the bill to the nape is bluish grey with a few black streaks ; a broad lateral band on each side of the crown black with rufous tips, succeeded by a distinct pale fulvous eyebrow reaching from the nostrils to the nape; lores and band through the eye black ; cheeks and ear-coverts pale fulvous ; a narrow black moustachial streak passing under and behind the ear-coverts and joining the eye-band ; back and scapulars chestnut-brown, streaked with black ; lesser wing-coverts bluish grey ; median and greater coverts, secondaries and tertiaries black, broadly margined with chestnut-brown ; primaries brown, narrowly edged with rufous ; rump chestnut with paler edges ; upper tail-coverts chestnut-brown, with black shaft-streaks; middle pair of tail-feathers black, broadly edged with chestnut-brown, the next two pairs entirely black, with narrow pale margins ; the next pair black with a white tip ; the outer two pairs white on the terminal half with black shafts ; chin whitish ; throat and breast bluish grey, each feather with an indistinct triangular brownish tip ; remainder of lower plumage and the sides of the neck plain chestnut-brown.
In the spring the tips and margins of the feathers become abraded, and the mesial coronal band becomes pure bluish grey ; the lateral bands, the eye-band, and the moustachial streak deep black ; the eyebrows, cheeks, and ear-coverts pure white; the throat and breast lose all traces of the triangular tips to the feathers.
Female. Resembles the male in every respect, but is perhaps a little paler; undergoes the same seasonal change of colour.
The young bird is rufous-brown above, everywhere densely streaked with black, and the lower plumage is pale rufous, deepening on the abdomen and densely streaked with black on the throat, breast, and sides of the body.
Bill dark plumbeous above, light plumbeous below; iris dark brown ; legs and feet fleshy yellow (Hume).
Length 6.5 ; tail 3.1 ; wing 3.2 ; tarsus .7 ; bill from gape .5.
This Bunting may be looked upon as a race of E. cia of Europe. E. cia differs in wanting the pure black and white marks on the head which are so conspicuous in E. stracheyi, the white in E. cia being always tinged with grey and the black obscured by rufous tints. In E. cia the median and greater wing-coverts are tipped with a more or less pure white, whereas in the Indian bird the tippings to these parts are chestnut-brown of the same colour as the back. Lastly, in E. cia the rufous of the lower parts is much paler.
Distribution. The Himalayas, from the Hazara country and Gilgit to Kumaun. This species is resident on the Himalayas, moving vertically according to season. A few Buntings of this species appear to visit the plains of the Punjab in the winter. The range extends into Baluchistan.
Habits, &c. Breeds in the Himalayas from 4000 to 9000 feet, making a loose cup-like nest of grass on the ground. The eggs are pale greenish white or grey mottled with purplish, and covered by a series of delicate lines and scrawls which are dark brown or black. They measure about .83 by .63.